How is your Gut Flora treating you?
How is your Gut Flora treating you?
Your Gut Microbiota: The Forgotten Organ!
‘Good health starts in the Gut’ and How is your Gut Flora treating you?, was instilled in me during my Naturopathic studies, and now science is backing this up too! In more recent years, research studies have been focused on the area of the ‘microbiome’; the hidden microbial populations found within humans and how they affecting your health.
Normal healthy digestion is a ‘silent’ process. It is taking place whilst we rest, eat, sleep or work. We generally only become aware of digestion, when something goes wrong; when food or drink causes a gut imbalance resulting in perhaps constipation, flatulence or diarrhoea.
What Science is saying?
Scientists have only recently started to understand that we are hosts to at least 100 trillion microbial cells and quadrillion viruses both in us and on us. Collectively, the microbes that reside in and on us are known as the microbiota, and the genes they encode are known as our microbiome. This complex and microscopic community consisting of bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi interact with one another and with you! some in balance and at others times cause this balance to be lost. The bacterial component of the microbiota has been studied extensively in recent years, driven by The Human Microbiome Project and MetaHIT. They have discovered that a large variability exists within the gut microbiota. Despite the they do know that these communities also share a ‘core’ of microbiome. Likewise they have found similar diversity within the human virome (the viruses that are found within the microbiota).
What makes Healthy Microbiota?
Keeping our gut microbiota healthy and diverse can be a tricky process. Scientists are saying that your microbiota could be the major key to understanding chronic diseases including Obesity, Type II Diabetes, Asthma, Autoimmune diseases, and the list goes on. It is known that your microbiota is generally stable over time, however antibiotic overuse, a highly processed diet of sugar, refined grains and low fibre have been linked with greater imbalances. At this time there is a great call for the use of probiotics. Probiotics are friendly bacteria or yeasts that can assist in improving health. Practitioners generally keep specific strains and/or multi-probiotic strains that assist in particular treatments i.e. Lactobacillus rhamnosus may help to alleviate systems of eczema and diarrhoea. Our aim is to improve our overall bacterial balance to ensure we have more of the beneficial ones, so they teem up in our gut to produce healthy intestines and immunity. “Probiotics can improve intestinal function and maintain the integrity of the lining of the intestines,” says Dr Guandalini, Professor of paediatrics and gastroenterology at the University of Chicago Medical Centre. These friendly organisms may also help fight bacteria that cause diarrhoea.
Did you know that about half of the Australian population complains of some digestive problem in any 12 month period?
We all know someone with heartburn, diarrhoea, an ulcer, irritable bowel or Crohn’s disease, colitis, or even bowel cancer. And unfortunately the rates are increasing. Dietary changes in particular have been shown to have significant effects on the microbiota. Mice that shifted to a high-fat, high-sugar Western Type Diet, from a low-fat, plant-high fibre based diet showed changes within their microbiota within a day.
Naturopaths have long known
“We are what we eat”
& now science is backing this.
The key to prevention and reversing some of our gut reactions has been explored in The Catalyst Program Gut Reactions Part 1 Scientists discovered that vinegar can assist the immune system. Acetate found in vinegar is used by the friendly bacteria in the gut! It ‘calms’ and stops your immune system from overreacting.
A professor on the show radically changed his diet. He stopped eating processed foods, changed from white rice and pasta to brown, included brown bread and generally included more fibre in his diet through fruits and vegetables along with including liberal quantities of vinegar. This had a dramatic effect on his asthma. After previously using a puffer twice a day and steroids two to three times a day he was down to around one puffer a year! There are still no proper clinical trials to prove that vinegar and fibre can improve asthma however we are well on the way to proving the benefits of this for impacting your microbiomes in a positive way. This could have a tremendous effect on respiratory tract diseases they said, in particular emphysema which is an incurable chronic disease found within our communities. Healthy mice were placed together with those that were unhealthy (that had emphysema – COPD). Mice tend to share one another’s ‘poo’ thereby sharing their microbiome. The symptoms improved in those that were ill. The Catalyst Program goes on to describe the latest techniques being employed in hospitals for those who suffer debilitating, digestive disorders. Transporting healthy microbiomes from ‘poo’ is now occurring. Inserting a healthy colony of microbiota from a healthy individual into someone who has is ill, is the way medical science is moving!
Some easy ways to improve your gut flora
- Choose a reputable multistrain probiotic
- Take organic apple cider vinegar, 15 minutes before meals especially breakfast and dinner
- Increase fibre through vegetables!
- A key way to learn more about the best approaches for your health, make an appointment with a qualified Naturopath/Nutritionist.
- Determining what is best for you is an individual process!
ABC Catalyst Program Gut Reactions Part 2
The impact of the Gut Microbiota on Human Health: an integrative view, Clemente, et al., Cell, 148, 2012.